Staying safe with public wifi

The data experts at Geonode conducted comprehensive research on the cybersecurity risks associated with public Wi-Fi.

Every day, millions of people use public Wi-Fi networks at airports and on the Tube, seeking convenience and entertainment while they travel. However, these networks often lack proper security measures, leaving users exposed to a wide range of cyber threats. We are excited to share our research with you, providing in-depth information on the potential dangers and offering expert advice on staying safe.

The startling statistics: Geonode’s research shows that up to 75% of public Wi-Fi networks could prove vulnerable to cyber-attacks, while 1 in 3 users have shared sensitive information, such as passwords and financial data, over these unsecured networks. The various cyber threats associated with using public Wi-Fi at airports and other public places include data interception, man-in-the-middle attacks, and malicious hotspots.

Below are some of the best practices for staying safe whilst using public Wi-Fi networks at airports, in the metro or in any other public spaces: –

  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA): Whenever possible, enable 2FA on your accounts. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification, such as a text message or authentication app, in addition to your password.
  • Keep software and apps updated: Regularly update your operating system, web browsers, and apps to ensure you have the latest security patches.
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive activities: Refrain from accessing or sharing sensitive information, such as online banking or personal identification, when connected to public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Use HTTPS websites: Make sure the websites you visit use HTTPS, which indicates that the data exchanged between your device and the website is encrypted.
  • Turn off file sharing and Wi-Fi when not in use: Disable file-sharing options on your device and turn off Wi-Fi when you’re not using it to prevent unauthorised access to your files or device.
  • Use antivirus and firewall software: Install reliable antivirus software and enable a firewall on your device to protect against malware and other threats.
  • Be cautious of public charging stations: Cybercriminals can exploit public charging stations to install malware or steal data from your device. Use your own charger and plug it into a wall outlet, or use a portable power bank.
  • Beware of fake Wi-Fi hotspots: Verify the legitimacy of a public Wi-Fi network before connecting to it. Cybercriminals often create fake hotspots with similar names to trick users into connecting.
  • Use strong, unique passwords: Create strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts and avoid using the same password across multiple platforms.

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